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Widespread Spying Preceded '04 GOP Convention

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the protest-as-terrorism dept.

Privacy 471

Frosty Piss alerts us to a story in the New York Times reporting on details that are emerging of a far-flung spying operation lasting up to a year leading up to the 2004 Republican National Convention. The New York Police Department mounted a spy campaign reaching well beyond the state of New York. For at least a year before the convention, teams of undercover New York police officers traveled to cities across the US, Canada, and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention. Across the country undercover officers attended meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists. In at least some cases, intelligence on what appeared to be lawful activity was shared with other police departments. Outlines of the pre-convention operations are emerging from records in federal lawsuits brought over mass arrests during the convention.

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This is the police. (3, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482335)

This is the police.

Police has no morality whatsoever; they are not sworn-in to the Constitution like the armed forces are, and so are open to perform all abuses for the rich and powerful.

Re:This is the police. (4, Insightful)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482367)

the rich and powerful
Follow the money. Don't stop at Parties. Don't stop at banks. Stop at the Federal Reserve.

Re:This is the police. (3, Funny)

Kagura (843695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482605)

Follow the money. Don't stop at Parties. Don't stop at banks. Stop at the Federal Reserve.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. :)

Re:This is the police. (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482917)

follow the money is an excellent principle but it really does not apply to the case at hand.

These people were spying abroad, no point in tracing the money. Throwing the book at them
would be a better alternative, surely there are records of who went where and when.

Re:This is the police. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482789)

Follow the money. Don't stop at Parties. Don't stop at banks. Stop at the Federal Reserve.

Make a huge withdrawal. Then go to the Parties.

Re:This is the police. (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482377)

Of course, the typical American response is going to be this:

For a couple days, half of people will get upset over the abuse of power and invasion of privacy and misuse of government while the other half excuse and justify it with comments like "if ya don't have nuthin' tuh hide" and "we're at war - you have to give up some freedoms to be safe during war!".

Some minor news organizations will make a huge deal out of it.

Most will largely ignore it and not make a story out of it.

Within 72 hours, Americans will have forgotten entirely about it and be back to fretting over the poor blond haired, blue-eyed, pretty, affluent girl that disappeared a couple years ago in Bermuda thanks to the non-stop cable news coverage (still, two years later - as of the broadcasts LASTNIGHT!).

Remember, this is America. We don't start revolutions. We don't fight for anything unless it's the last Tickle Me Elmo on store shelves at Christmas. The most effort we're willing to put into our civics and society and the most we're willing to risk of ourselves for them is a text vote or two on our cell phones.

Mod parent up (0, Offtopic)

wass (72082) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482477)

Sadly, he/she tells it like it is.

Re:This is the police. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482487)

Alternatively, Americans attempt to vote against said parties (if they were voted in) or get said parties displaced from power (through the legal system). Any attempts such as these are ignored or rerouted based on technicalities.

Anybody considering a definite physical response would be deemed a terrorist and would be gone. Fast.

We don't fight for anything unless it's the last Tickle Me Elmo on store shelves at Christmas.

Don't forget those PS3s, lad. I heard they've got lots o' FLOPS. Lots and lots of FLOPS.

Re:This is the police. (5, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482561)

Within 72 hours, Americans will have forgotten entirely about it
and we'll find something else to read and rant about on /.

Re:This is the police. (3, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482585)

To be fair, how would they know who to stick in the Free Speech Zone [wikipedia.org] if they didn't spy on them, first?

Re:This is the police. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482609)

I really wish you were wrong, but you're not.

invasion of privacy??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482739)

There was no "invasion of privacy"! The police only attended PUBLIC meetings and sent emails to members of these groups.

Re:invasion of privacy??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482895)

What part of "spying" eludes you?

Re:This is the police. (4, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482923)

Within 72 hours, Americans will have forgotten entirely about it and be back to fretting over the poor blond haired, blue-eyed, pretty, affluent girl that disappeared a couple years ago in Bermuda thanks to the non-stop cable news coverage (still, two years later - as of the broadcasts LASTNIGHT!).
Yup. Gore Vidal said it best... welcome to the United States of Amnesia.

Re:This is the police. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482433)

The police aren't sworn in to serve and protect the Constitution?

I've served on the Planning and Zoning Committee of a small town, and I took an oath to take my office.

Re:This is the police. (1)

vandan (151516) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482787)

Certainly the police are not there to protect individual freedoms. They're there to protect private property of the fabulously wealth, and a part of that 'protection' is intimidating anyone who argues against the rights of these people to continue to enrich themselves at everyone else's expense.

On 18th April, at 7pm at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre ( Sydney ), I will be speaking at a Socialist Worker forum on these issues precisely, entitled, "The Police, the State, and Civil Liberties". Anyone interested is more than welcome to come along and join the discussion.

Re:This is the police. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482819)

Anyone interested is more than welcome to come along and join the discussion.
Does that include undercover police officers?

Turing Word: tippers

Re:This is the police. (1)

vandan (151516) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482847)

:) Why of course. We've had a number of our members followed, 'interviewed', and generally harassed. It would certainly be no surprise to us if this bullshit continued.

AGAIN again ..... (2, Insightful)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482353)

The corruption we see today from the republican side never ceases. I am sure it has probably been as bad from the other side in the past but not in my memory. It just keeps coming. I can't think of a single truth I have heard from the current administration.

Re:AGAIN again ..... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482383)

How much you wanna bet that parent will be at +5?

And... if you do s/republican/democrat/ where would it be? oh yeah, -1, flamebait.

My 2 cents, and please, try to prove me wrong!

Re:AGAIN again ..... (0)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482417)

and please, try to prove me wrong!

OK

The corruption we see today from the democrat side never ceases. I am sure it has probably been as bad from the other side in the past but not in my memory. It just keeps coming. I can't think of a single truth I have heard from the current administration.

Re:AGAIN again ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482563)

What does this have to do with corruption? It's about spying on a bunch of misfits and hooligans.

Looks like good policework (2, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482731)

> What does this have to do with corruption? It's about spying on a bunch of misfits and hooligans.

But you don't understand! If they are trying to blow up Republicans they are patriots and heros. Shame on the NYPD for aiding and abetting BusHitler.

Seriously though; read the whole article and reading through the painfully obvious bias the NYT put on it it looked like a textbook example of good police work. They didn't tap any phones or break the law, they read open sourses like webpages and they put boots on the ground at meetings open to the public to collect human intelligence. Yes they kept files on threats and non threats, who wants to have each team investigate the same harmless nuts? Then when the convention hit they knew which ones were the small hardcore fringe most likely to commit crimes and they culled em out of the herd while allowing several hundred thousand (misguided fools in my humble opinion, but I respect their right to BE fools) protesters to peacefully assemble and petition their government for redress of their idiot grievences.

Bottom line people, the right to protest DOES not include the right to anarchy, terror and violence. A million or so of the diehard socialist/progressive/green side need to learn the difference, including it appears 75% of slashdot's readership.

Re:Looks like good policework (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482807)

Hah, I was just going for a +5 Funny, to prove the guy wrong, since s/republican/democrat/ didn't change most of the original message, but I guess humor like that goes over the head of 25% of slashdot, including the ones with modpoints.

Re:AGAIN again ..... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482441)

Of course! Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Re:AGAIN again ..... (2, Insightful)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482671)

And you're surprised because.....

Just to be even-handed, wasn't it Clinton who caged protesters off in areas where he'd never have to see them? Something along the lines of "you have the right to free speech, but you don't have the right for anybody to hear you".

But no, you're probably right, that this admin is working hard to rise to Nixonian levels.

Key Question: "What is the next step?" (3, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482677)

This domestic spying is almost identical to what the FSB in Russia has done since Putin ascended to power. The FSB has been extensively spying on anyone who supports peaceful, democratic dissent. Spying, by itself, does not suppress democracy. The trouble is that spying often leads to abusing civil rights and other egregious activities that do ruin democratic society.

Once the FSB determines who the troublemakers are, the Kremlin orders its loyalists in the city governments to suppress dissent. In fact, on March 24, Russian authorities arrested all the peaceful protestors [iht.com] before they could begin their rally.

Will Washington follow in the footsteps of Moscow and go to the next logical step after spying? I hope that the answer is "no", but I cannot be 100% certain that the answer is "no".

next step?" Nothing, since this is 3 years ago. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482813)

This domestic spying is almost identical to what the FSB in Russia has done since Putin ascended to power. The FSB has been extensively spying on anyone who supports peaceful, democratic dissent.

Will Washington follow in the footsteps of Moscow and go to the next logical step after spying?

You're comparing the US and Russia? The FSB are all of Putin's ex-KGB friends and the NYPD has nothing to do with the Bush administration and, this happened 3 years ago.

Re:AGAIN again ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482935)

Now that's not entirely accurate. I once heard the president state that his name was "George W. Bush." That's a verifiable fact!

NYPD once again violates Handschu Agreement.. (3, Insightful)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482361)

The NYPD exhibiting "Bad Faith"?

Why am I not surprised?

That does it! (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482363)

No more New Yorkers at my parties....

Oh, wait, I read /.

Never mind

This is indisputably a Good Thing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482369)

Government should fear the people. The more the J. Edgar Hoover wannabees feel the need to spy on me, the more I feel like I actually have a chance to change things.

Re:This is indisputably a Good Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482689)

By this logic, the citizens of the Warsaw Pact had a huge chance to change things and people in the West had little. The reality is the opposite; people in the West could change things just by voting in large numbers, but Warsaw Pact members had to come to the brink (and sometimes past) of bloody revolution before anything changed.

A quick sanity check of any political theory is that if it proves that people were more happy, well-off, or free under Stalin than almost anywhere else, that theory is wrong.

A government should fear its people, but this is merely a necessary, not a sufficient, condition for freedom.

Re:This is indisputably a Good Thing (1)

MobyTurbo (537363) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482929)

Then why did you write that as an Anonymous Coward? (Not a flame, a serious question.)

spying on Canada (1)

Mowie_X (600765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482381)

As for spying on Canada, I've read that our spy agency CSIS spends a considerable amount of time keeping an eye on American spies on our soil. Or maybe they are just saying that and have no idea if/where American spies are operating.

Re:spying on Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482769)

When the conservatives are in power, the Canadian government HELPS the US spies. The more money spies can put in the hands of christian conservative GOP supporting corporations, the more they can kick back to their buddies in the conservative party. Case in point. [wikipedia.org]

Re:spying on Canada (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482833)

You kicked our asses in 1812 and we wanna make sure the same mistakes aren't made again. Like invading you. *cough*

The Best Intelligence Agency in the US! (5, Insightful)

soren42 (700305) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482385)

So, what I took from this article is that the NYPD has domestic and international espionage capabilities comparable to (or, worse, better than) our nation's designed intelligence bodies. They also seem to do a better job of sharing information between agencies than the CIA, NSA, the various military intelligence organizations, and the FBI.

This is yet another illustration of my point... the people that need to be in Iraq and Afghanistan are the NYPD and the LAPD. Their SWAT, negotiations, and (apparently!) intelligence teams are what's needed - these efforts ceased being appropriate "military actions" some time ago. What's needed now is an effective police force - which not the U.S. Army or Marines.

And, by the way, yes, I do agree with what will no doubt the general sentiment on there - that is an outrageous, appalling, and despicable invasion of the personal privacy rights of ordinary citizens around the globe... but, aside from whining about how corrupt our elected officials and expressing my outrage, I figured there was some small glimmer of upside in this piece.

Re:The Best Intelligence Agency in the US! (3, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482473)

the people that need to be in Iraq and Afghanistan are the NYPD and the LAPD
So when the NYPD catches Bin Laden, they'll sodomize him with a baton? And then give him to the LAPs who beat up Rodney King? Hmmm...I'm beginning to like your idea.

Re:The Best Intelligence Agency in the US! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482489)

Outrageous, appalling, and despicable ... to simply talk to some people to make sure they're not planning destructive acts which take away OTHERs' freedoms?

Oooooh, how terrible. I'm quaking in my boots at the thoughts that the police are, ummm, what exactly - doing their job?

Yes, that was sarcasm.

Hey, NYC cops? Thank you for your efforts at keeping folks in NYC safe from destrutive assholes.

If by "best", you mean "overzealous" (4, Insightful)

alienmole (15522) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482825)

Thank you for your efforts at keeping folks in NYC safe from destrutive assholes.

Hopefully you don't mean to conflate "people who planned to protest at the convention" with "destructive assholes". And that's the problem here: the police are treating people with dissenting political views as potential criminals. That's an unfortunate situation in a supposedly free society: at the very least, it certainly has a chilling effect on free speech. I've lived in a country where you had to worry about whether your neighbor or some of your college buddies were reporting on what you said to the government. That's a very effective tool for keeping a populace in line and suppressing dissent, or at least driving it underground. Paradoxically, though, the more you do that kind of thing, the more likely you are to have a huge blowup (figuratively and literally) in future.

Have you ever sat around with a group of friends who you know share your opinions, and bullshitted about how you'd like to kill someone, or see them killed, or blow up something to make a point, etc.? People say that sort of stuff all the time, even quite respectable people, especially when they're young. Now imagine there's an undercover cop in the room, and what's going to go in his report. Watch the movie "A Scanner Darkly" (or read the book) to get a bit of a feel for this, it's quite accurate in that respect. Pretty soon you've got federal agents chasing shadows, and SWAT raids on innocent people's houses. That hasn't happened all that much in the U.S. recently, yet, but the way things are going, it seems like just a matter of time. Perhaps every few generations, it's necessary to rediscover firsthand why the iron fist approach to governance doesn't work.

That all said, cops still have a job to do. But when conducting operations like this one, they need to be held to a high standard. Did you RTFA? Here's a quote:

In hundreds of reports stamped "N.Y.P.D. Secret," the Intelligence Division chronicled the views and plans of people who had no apparent intention of breaking the law, the records show.

These included members of street theater companies, church groups and antiwar organizations, as well as environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies. Three New York City elected officials were cited in the reports.

In at least some cases, intelligence on what appeared to be lawful activity was shared with police departments in other cities. A police report on an organization of artists called Bands Against Bush noted that the group was planning concerts on Oct. 11, 2003, in New York, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston. Between musical sets, the report said, there would be political speeches and videos.

The problem is that when you give people power over other people, abuse all too easily follows. We saw that in Abu Ghraib, and it's been demonstrated over and over in psychological experiments. When you turn someone into a spy, especially someone who isn't properly trained, it can be difficult for them to remember their real mission -- suddenly, finding anything out about anyone starts to seem important. (Some special prosecutors seem to have suffered from this effect, too.) So with operations like this, real care and oversight is needed.

Re:The Best Intelligence Agency in the US! (2, Interesting)

FFFish (7567) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482529)

Leads me to believe, yet again, that there is are population size constraints on effective/efficient government. The best-run countries don't have a humongous population.

Re:The Best Intelligence Agency in the US! (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482699)

Leads me to believe, yet again, that there is are population size constraints on effective/efficient government. The best-run countries don't have a humongous population.

Whew, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that.

Re:The Best Intelligence Agency in the US! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482539)

the people that need to be in Iraq and Afghanistan are the NYPD and the LAPD.
Bush tried something like this, albeit more for propaganda purposes than anything else. From this must-read Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] article:

(CPA = Coalition Provisional Authority, run by Paul Bremer)

In May 2003, a team of law enforcement experts from the Justice Department concluded that more than 6,600 foreign advisers were needed to help rehabilitate Iraq's police forces.

The White House dispatched just one: Bernie Kerik.

Bernard Kerik had more star power than Bremer and everyone else in the CPA combined. Soldiers stopped him in the halls of the Republican Palace to ask for his autograph or, if they had a camera, a picture. Reporters were more interested in interviewing him than they were the viceroy.

Kerik had been New York City's police commissioner when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. His courage (he shouted evacuation orders from a block away as the south tower collapsed), his stamina (he worked around the clock and catnapped in his office for weeks), and his charisma (he was a master of the television interview) turned him into a national hero. When White House officials were casting about for a prominent individual to take charge of Iraq's Interior Ministry and assume the challenge of rebuilding the Iraqi police, Kerik's name came up. Bush pronounced it an excellent idea.
...[snip]...

"I'm here to bring more media attention to the good work on police because the situation is probably not as bad as people think it is," Kerik replied.

As they entered the Interior Ministry office in the palace, Gifford offered to brief Kerik. "It was during that period I realized he wasn't with me," Gifford recalled. "He didn't listen to anything. He hadn't read anything except his e-mails. I don't think he read a single one of our proposals."

Kerik wasn't a details guy. He was content to let Gifford figure out how to train Iraqi officers to work in a democratic society. Kerik would take care of briefing the viceroy and the media. And he'd be going out for a few missions himself.

Kerik's first order of business, less than a week after he arrived, was to give a slew of interviews saying the situation was improving. He told the Associated Press that security in Baghdad "is not as bad as I thought. Are bad things going on? Yes. But is it out of control? No. Is it getting better? Yes." He went on NBC's "Today" show to pronounce the situation "better than I expected." To Time magazine, he said that "people are starting to feel more confident. They're coming back out. Markets and shops that I saw closed one week ago have opened."

When it came to his own safety, Kerik took no chances. He hired a team of South African bodyguards, and he packed a 9mm handgun under his safari vest.
..[snip]...

Kerik held only two staff meetings while in Iraq, one when he arrived and the other when he was being shadowed by a New York Times reporter, according to Gerald Burke, a former Massachusetts State Police commander who participated in the initial Justice Department assessment mission. Despite his White House connections, Kerik did not secure funding for the desperately needed police advisers. With no help on the way, the task of organizing and training Iraqi officers fell to U.S. military police soldiers, many of whom had no experience in civilian law enforcement.

"He was the wrong guy at the wrong time," Burke said later. "Bernie didn't have the skills. What we needed was a chief executive-level person. . . . Bernie came in with a street-cop mentality."
(This is just a taste. Read the article for the full shock and awe.)

Yep. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482425)

When I read that, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of well, nothing. Our government as a whole has fallen so far it is no longer suprising or even "despicable", it's almost routine, and that is the truly disgusting part.

Previous operations of this sort (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482427)

So let's review what we know so far...

* FBI abusing its snooping authority under the patriot act
* Major telecommunications companies provide secret rooms to the government to pick through Internet communications
* Al Gonzalez authorizes (illegal) collection of phone call databases
* "Total Information Awareness" (TIA) program continues to create mass associative database of all american entities (people, businesses)
* Inkjet printers embed hidden serial numbers
* Newly issued American passports leak personal information including pictures
* Government has access to all Americans' financial transactions
* US government contracts w/private companies to harvest information (which it itself can't do)
* Law enforcement infiltrates peaceful organizations (occasionally incites and/or foments violence)
* Attorney General removes Federal Prosecutor for lack of loyalty to Administration... (raising questions about those who WEREN'T fired)
* ???
* Someone profits.

Re:Previous operations of this sort (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482491)

... and a kewpie doll to the first person that can tell us just WHO profits *without* mentioning a party name or politically-related person or proper noun.

{Disclaimer: I'm not the AC above; I would've claimed that post.}

Re:Previous operations of this sort (1)

crazy al's (603933) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482535)

could it be...corporate money interests? No nouns of the proper sort there...

I welcome our "new" economic overlords. I have nothing (left) to hide...

Re:Previous operations of this sort (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482843)

The ruling class and, to a lesser extent, their petty bourgeoisie servants are the ones who benefit. In this case, the petty bourgeoisie servants are the police and spies paid to do the snooping with other people's money.

Knowing what to do? (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482447)

Does anyone thing that maybe the reason we put up with this stuff is that we just don't know how to effectively change it? It seems like the only examples we have are

(a) Ineffectual: writing or congresspersons, letters to the editor, voting.

(b) (Typically) Crazy: armed revolt.

It's like none of us (including me) knows how to navigate the territory between those two extremes. Heck, I don't even know whether or not there is any territory in between.

Is this why we're damned to stand bye, then get over these things and go watch the newest B.S.G episode to forget about the state of the nation? We're just convinced that there's no effective way to deal with these things without resorting to violence, which we're (sensibly) loathe to do?

Re:Knowing what to do? (4, Insightful)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482507)

There is an effective way to deal with these things. Vote. When elections are lost because of this kind of thing, this kind of thing will stop happening.

It doesn't matter if the other candidate is only slightly less repugnant. Eventually you'll run the crappy people out.

Apathy is the only reason politics is in it's current cesspool state.

Re:Knowing what to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482567)

That's true.

The sleep of a nation gives birth to monsters.

Re:Knowing what to do? (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482861)

It doesn't matter if the other candidate is only slightly less repugnant. Eventually you'll run the crappy people out.
Are you implying that the number of crappy people in politics isn't infinite? :)

Apathy is the only reason politics is in it's current cesspool state.
I disagree. You'll never get good citizen oversight of elected officials and the election process (at the national level) when the average Senator represents 6 million people. Politicians are not responsible to the people, they are responsible to the media who inform the people. Even most self-described "informed" voters get the bulk of their information from television.

You're right, apathy is a problem. But ignorance and miseducation are just as big a problem, as is access to media.

Re:Knowing what to do? (1, Troll)

vandan (151516) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482893)

Vote?
You're missing some very important points.

Firstly, people DID vote against Bush, twice, and their votes were not counted for various reasons, ranging from Diebold 'malfunctions', to manual electoral fraud, to people mysteriously winding up on the felons list, etc, etc. Voting clearly isn't working.

Secondly, vote for WHO, exactly? Big business OWNS the election. They pay MASSIVE, multi-million dollar bribes ... sorry ... donations, to BOTH political parties. Sure if you get enough people to vote Democrat ( shudder ), you can get rid of the Republicans ( yay ), but no matter who you vote for, big business wins.

The only way ordinary people can affect society is by organising OUTSIDE of the official political process, and calling massive demonstrations, strikes, etc. These events wield far more power than the pathetic jokes that we call 'elections'.

Re:Knowing what to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482915)

It doesn't matter if the other candidate is only slightly less repugnant.
Yes, it does matter. If you vote for the lesser of two evils you are still voting for evil. Something is seriously wrong when we need to settle for the least repugnant of two candidates. Shouldn't we demand better than that?

Re:Knowing what to do? (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482611)

It's like none of us (including me) knows how to navigate the territory between those two extremes. Heck, I don't even know whether or not there is any territory in between. It looks like there is no territory between, because if you do something effective ( stronger than 'a' ) and non-violent ( not quite as strong as 'b' ) you get squashed. Examples of this range from the Whiskey Rebellion to Selma to Waco. The only way to do something effective for very long is to be armed so that you can shoot back. And sad to say, they will force you to quit or shoot back.

Re:Knowing what to do? (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482765)

There is a small amount of middle ground. A show of force and unity against a group that protects the government(the military) and you hope like hell that the majority of the soldiers find the prospect of shooting fellow citizens so distasteful that they refuse to follow orders or if your lucky significant parts of the military structure command structure join said rebellion because they realize that the government no longer follows that which they swore loyalty to. You still have to deal with the inevitable "by the grace of the government i will kill you" loyalists. In many countries this tends to be the "elite" soldiers, though in some they would be the first to ask "why am i fighting that which i swore to protect?"

Until someone realizes that sometimes you have to get violent and you need alot of people who are willing to get violent. We are stuck. Part of it is that they bring up children and tell them that democracy and votes are the only answer to a problem. They never say that sometimes to remove something so entrenched you have to get violent you have to fight and some times people have to die in the process. You have to accept that somethings are worth fighting and even dieing for. The US was to an extent created by that idea, yet we refuse to teach an idea like that to our nations youth. It almost like were afraid that they might find something that means that enough to them.

When was the last violent democratic revolution? There has been a few socialist and communist ones but I can't for the life of me name a democratic one.

Re:Knowing what to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482665)

Think of the children, you fucking terrorist.

Start by forming your own voting bloc. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482705)

Fuck letters to the editor. Power only respects power.

Get your friends together and get yourselves registered to vote. Agree on how you'll vote on what issues.

Then get in touch with your elected representatives (and people hoping to run for office) and make it clear that you represent X voters who WILL be voting in the next election. And tell them what you want to see changed.

Then carry through and VOTE.

If you want it to happen faster, volunteer to work on the campaigns of people who are willing to vote for what you believe.

Change happens when people get out and get involved.

Sure, you'll end up with a record at Homeland Security, but anyone who doesn't have one in these times isn't much of a patriot.

Re:Start by forming your own voting bloc. (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482763)

Get your friends together and get yourselves registered to vote. Agree on how you'll vote on what issues.
This is more or less how political parties get started. I think America could do with some more of those, so by all means, organize!

Watch the Extremists (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482453)

It's kind of annoying that extremists can't seperate themselves from peaceful protesters. I mean, if you want to throw stones at cops, do it when they are beating up on civilians, or taking bribes, or driving through red lights without the siren on. Don't go fuck up a peaceful protest.

Re:Watch the Extremists (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482595)

Or turning on the siren just so they can drive through a red light, after which they quickly turn it back off, and continue on at their regular non-emergency pace. Guess they just couldn't wait get to Tim Horton's.

Re:Watch the Extremists (2, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482599)

It's kind of annoying that extremists can't seperate themselves from peaceful protesters. I mean, if you want to throw stones at cops, do it when they are beating up on civilians, or taking bribes, or driving through red lights without the siren on. Don't go fuck up a peaceful protest.

Part of the problem is that you will still be classified as an "extremist" if you do something they don't like. FOr example, if you try to stage a peaceful public protest where the leaders in question can actually see you, rather than staying in your "free speech zone" box in the corner of a parking lot, like they told you (cough)DNC '04(cough). They consider anyone who doesn't sit quietly at home watching TV to be an extremist.

By their standards, you are an extremist. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482779)

The real question is whether you'd be consider an "extremist" by Washington, Jefferson or Franklin.

Sheep cannot form a Democracy. That requires informed, active participation by its citizens.

Re:Watch the Extremists (4, Interesting)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482641)

How do you know the "extremists" aren't police plants? Once upon a time, that would have sounded like a paranoid remark, but with this crowd, who knows?

And kids, don't forget, not only should we start planning how to disrupt the 2008 Republican Convention, we should make "plans" even if we have no intention of going. Make those spies earn their pay. Shouldn't be hard to get their attention, if they are willing to infiltrate the Quakers and Billionaires for Bush.

Re:Watch the Extremists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482867)

How do you know the "extremists" aren't police plants? Once upon a time, that would have sounded like a paranoid remark

Far from it. See Agent provocateur [wikipedia.org]

Re:Watch the Extremists (2, Insightful)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482661)


It's kind of annoying that extremists can't seperate themselves from peaceful protesters. I mean, if you want to throw stones at cops, do it when they are beating up on civilians, or taking bribes, or driving through red lights without the siren on. Don't go fuck up a peaceful protest.


Funny, I always thought the guys starting those riots were undercover cops. Say, the type that would go cross country and violate who knows how many laws to spy on innocent civilians wanting to use their free speech rights.

C'mon, it's easy.

1. Get a cop to dress up in street clothes.
2. Enter protest.
3. Throw a rock, push some people around, start a fistfight, whatever
4. The protest turns into a riot, the cops come down and beat the crap out of whomever they want, arrest everyone else, and go home.

Re:Watch the Extremists (1)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482695)

You know, the cops could cut out the middle man by just going into the station house break room, punching someone, a riot breaks out, and then more cops come in and give everyone a beat-down, after which everyone goes home.

We really should make a more efficient government a higher priority.

Re:Watch the Extremists (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482887)

Violent extremists are actually quite rare at protests. I've never seen an incident personally. Even with the violence that does happen, a lot of it is done or egged on by undercover cops.

Governments aren't the only ones who spy (1)

SpaghettiCoder (1073236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482457)

You will find that the "activists" and "sympathisers" in all walks of life are much more prolific in their use of spying than the authorities. That's because, if you disagree with them, you're Wrong. Police forces have much more pragmatic mundane concerns, such as will they will be able to show some results to the boss.


If you're my enemy's enemy, that doesn't mean you're my friend. These days you won't find an idealist anywhere.

All that intelligence gathering for what? (5, Insightful)

John3 (85454) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482469)

My brother was one of the 1,800 people held for one or two days at the old vehicle maintenance facility on the west side of Manhattan. Many of these people (including my brother) were rounded up like cattle just because they were walking down a block where a protest was taking place. People were out getting groceries and arrested, with no way to place phone calls, no place to sit, and unhealthy conditions (the police who worked in the facility during the same time period have filed numerous health claims).

So all this data was gathered and used for what...to cordon off a city block with snow fence and arrest EVERYONE in that block?

Ultimately the police likely had no real way to use any of the data, and to keep their Republican guests happy they resorted instead to just rounding up as many people as they could. By the time everyone was released the convention was over. The lawsuits will drag on for years (my brother is suing the city) and cost the city a ton of money.

The police like to boast that there were no disturbances or major incidents during the convention and they take the credit. More likely the reason is that the protestors and the citizens of New York were well behaved, protested peacefully, and even welcomed many of the convention attendees. My daughters (13 and 10 at the time) and I marched in the protest on Sunday during the convention and it was a wonderful day of peaceful expression of our political feelings.

What's kind of chilling... (2, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482511)

is the fact that we have G. Gordon Liddy talking about similar plans for the '72 (or was it 76?) elections.

it's not democrat or republican specifically. It just happens that the guys who were behind what happend in '72 were also behind what happend in '04. They just happened to be republican. of course, now we have the problem that most of their ilk ARE the republican party, but that's beside the point.

Dead bodies in Waco would say Dems to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482863)

How many children did Janet Reno barbeque, anyway?

This isn't a Republican/Democrat thing. It's a "too much power" thing.

Remember that the next time you vote for someone who wants to increase government power. And more taxes means more government power.

Governments with no money are pretty powerless. So if you fear a powerful government, don't vote for anyone who'd raise your taxes.

This Defies Rightist "Conspiracy Theory" Arguments (4, Insightful)

SRA8 (859587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482557)

The argument I constantly hear from those on the far right -- if there actually was a conspiracy, someone would have spoken out. Well, if that is the case, how come such a national "conspiracy," if you would call it, took 3 years to come out?

Re:This Defies Rightist "Conspiracy Theory" Argume (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482651)

Because it was just the police doing their jobs. That's why. When undercover cops attent public meetings there's nothing remotly nefarious about that. History has shown that mass protests, especialy those conducted by 'leftist' groups, have a habit of ending up in violence, partly becuase that's what the protesters want. When the police seek to gather information about those who may possibly be planning violence that's just them doing thier job.

Also, Canada dosent have to give a shit about your civil rights if you're an American. We can, and probably do listen in on your phone calls because you're in a forign country. The US does the same to Canada, I'm sure.

If you want to get all indignant about something how about you start making citizen's arrests the next time crazy wackos in the middle of a peaceful crowd start throwing stones. That's something you *CAN* do which *WILL* discourage them and make these kinds of police action unneccisary.

Re:This Defies Rightist "Conspiracy Theory" Argume (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482725)

This is why I posted AC, people. The comment started out with zero karma points and the first one it gains is a "-1 overrated". It wasn't a troll or offtopic, it was just distaistful to whoever had mod points to throw around.

And people wonder why we can't have an honest discussion on topics like this.

Re:This Defies Rightist "Conspiracy Theory" Argume (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482773)

When undercover cops attent public meetings there's nothing remotly nefarious about that.


Um, yes there is, if he's using it to gather intelligence on political activists for later persecution based on nothing more than political activities which are explicitly protected by the first amendment of the Constitution. You should acquaint yourself with the 20th century abuses of such "innocent" behavior (particularly 1960-1975) before making such silly comments.

Of course, this is only made worse by the fact that the officers were working well outside their jurisdictions when no actual crimes had been committed or were planned. It's one thing to follow a criminal enterprise where it leads, another to speculate that someone half a country away may someday think about doing something criminal and therefore should be infiltrated by an agency that has no right to be operating in that area in the first place.

If you want to get all indignant about something how about you start making citizen's arrests the next time crazy wackos in the middle of a peaceful crowd start throwing stones.


That's pretty funny, considering it's been shown by countless official documents that pretty much everyone instigating riots and throwing stones during the period I mentioned above was a police officer or FBI agent whose job was to start violence as a way to discredit the protesters.

Re:This Defies Rightist "Conspiracy Theory" Argume (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482869)

I don't believe that anyone in the far right would actually use that argument. It smells more like something you might hear from a standard issue Republican.

haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482569)

and we picked them out 30 seconds into every meeting. Everyone knew who the cops were. "Fight the system! We should blow up a bridge or something!"
"Dude, we're organizing a march. Nice tie dye and combat boots though."
If they're spending their time investigating quakers, who are they missing?

Re:haha (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482713)

"If they're spending their time investigating quakers, who are they missing?"

THE AMISH!

Re:haha (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482865)

Of course. The Amish are so industrious, not like those shiftless Mennonites...

What did this cost? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482573)

We know this sort of thing costs the nation its soul, but what I can't find in TFA is what all these operations cost the city of New York. Was the city reimbursed? I thought the Bush administarion was failing to deliver on promises regarding security for NYC? Why are they helping him then?
--
Thank goodness for sunshine: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Was infiltration and surveillance ever immoral? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482631)

http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/index.php?link= template&story=136 [searchlightmagazine.com]

"Our unique work in infiltrating the fascist movements means that we are able to embark on intelligence-led campaigning against them; knowing what the issues are that they are campaigning on and able to help lead an effective response. We believe that without knowledge of the enemy's plans it is impossible to wage a successful war against them."

There are plenty of organisations who openly state that their modus operandi and continuing work is to infiltrate "enemy" movements. As far as I can see, widespread outcry and protests, or use of laws against them, has been rather lacking. The only sensible conclusion to draw is that ethics isn't about what you do, it's about who you do it against. As the people who are subject to surveillance in this instance are radical and organised Democrat activists, whom I don't have excessive sympathy for, I consider it a good and correct thing that they are kept an overview of.

not what you think (3, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482683)

They must mean New York, USSR. Americans would never allow this type of stuff.

I don't live in New York, so ... (1)

netbuzz (955038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482701)

... when I read a story like this, I usually try to stop and ask myself, "What if I did live there? Would this kind of craziness make more sense?" I cannot imagine that it would, but, like I said, I don't life in New York. ... BTW, if you haven't read the article, you really should just to catch the part about the "wireless bicycle."

http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/1287 4 [networkworld.com]

Re:I don't live in New York, so ... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482749)


>... when I read a story like this, I usually try to stop and ask myself, "What if I did live there? Would this kind of craziness make >more sense?"

Chances are good that between the three jobs you had to work just to maintain a subsistence living, you would not have the time to be concerned with such things.

In Soviet Russia (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482715)

In Soviet Russia...

...we're all Republicans!

tax cut needed? (1)

jay2003 (668095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482717)

The New York City Government obviously has too much money if they can waste money illegally spying on non-violent, peaceful groups. It seems highly doubtful that citizens of NYC approve of this use of their money. Therefore, the police budget should be cut and savings returned to citizens through reduced taxes.

I am going broke (2, Interesting)

janneH (720747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482735)

Everytime something like this happens I log on to the ACLU site and give them another hundred dollars. At this rate I am going to broke by next week.

Another reason to distrust those smiling coyotes. (0, Offtopic)

copponex (13876) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482743)

Whenever anyone tries to tell you that the government should be making any decision without the consent AND knowledge of the populace, tell them you distrust the US government because they assassinate citizens and sell weapons to sworn enemies. For reference, see COINTELPRO and the Iran Contra Affair.

"The truth is subversive and anti-American." -Noam Chomsky

Propaganda - You are being used. (-1, Troll)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18482759)

You are being fed stories by the socialist, leftist news organizations. This keeps happening over and over and you guys just eat it up. In the end nothing ever happens because the claims were bogus or exaggerated. Wiretapping? Haliburton? Libby?, etc, etc,. They play off your skewed opinions to skew you further. Name ONE "rightist conspiracy" that has panned out. By the time you realize what is going on you'll be walking around in Chavez t-shirts wondering why it's wrong to nationalize General Motors.

Re:Propaganda - You are being used. (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482919)

How amusing, I'm being labeled a troll. What exactly am I trolling?

Re:Propaganda - You are being used. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482931)

Operation Gem Stone back in the 60's.

It was G. Gordon Liddy's pet project that eventually ended up with the Watergate scandal in the 70's.

Then in the 80's, you've got the theory that Reagan conspired to trade arms or other goods for the safety of hostages. Not to mention Grenada, Iran-Contra, Noriega, the Savings and Loan bailout scandals...

The 90's sees the start of the cover up of the Mark Foley scandal that blossomed in this decade, not to mention the incredibly wasteful witch hunt against President Clinton in both the Government and the rightwing media. David Brock wrote about it in "Blinded by the Right." James Carville also wrote a similar covering of the impeachment that resulted in "...And the Horse You Rode In On." Sure, it was written by Democrat zealot James Carville, but it's worth a read.

NYC mayor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18482775)

Isn't the mayor of NYC at a time the same man who is running for the domination of the Republican party?
Sure, he would spend some of the city tax payers money on helping his Republican buddies.

The good citizens of New York City (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482783)

The good citizens of New York City must be delighted to know that their tax dollars and police manpower went to safeguarding the Republican Party from protesters instead of, for example, finding Al Quaeda operatives.

Vote for Guiliani for president, he really knows how to respond to terrorist threats. Not!

I thought that that was illegal to do but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18482829)

...I shouldn't be surprised that GOP'ers wanted this.

The issue is? (3, Insightful)

OakLEE (91103) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482851)

Disclosure: I don't feel like registering, so I did not read the article. My comments are based completely on the summary. Feel free to correct me if the story indicates otherwise.

That said, what the NYPD did is (1) travel to cities around the world (2) to observe public meetings of groups of people (3) who were likely to be in NYC during the convention (4) and cause significant disruptions in business and city services (5) for an extended period of time.

This is not espionage [reference.com] , it is scouting [reference.com] . The NYPD did not obtain any secret information from these meetings. These were publicly open meetings intended to disseminate the information the NYPD was after to anyone in attendance. The NYPD took action that an average person could take if they were willing to spend a several thousand dollars.

This is no different than a basketball coach attending an opposing team's game or looking at their game film. This is no different, even, than a police man listening to two people talking in the middle of a busy street. It is settled law, in the US at least, that individuals or groups of individuals have no expectation of privacy in a public area.

The NYPD did not exercise any extra-jurisdictional control over these people or use any methods that would illegal under either US, New York, or Local Country law. All they did was attend public meetings without advertising their presence. There is no evidence here that NYPD was abusing its authority in observing these groups, that it infiltrated these groups to cause internal disruptions, or that its observation invaded the privacy of these groups. In short, the NYPD did nothing legally or morally wrong.

Re:The issue is? (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482881)

If I had mod points you'd get them... FINALLY someone thinks about this RATIONALLY. It seems to me we WANT our police to scout, so they can cleanly, efficiently, and safely deal with potential problems before they arise.

I guess if the police plan ahead, here on /. it's considered a breach of the Constitution. Of course, if the police don't plan ahead then they're trashed for not doing their job...

Shit-My Bad (3, Interesting)

OakLEE (91103) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482889)

Ok, I did not read the part about NYPD officers posing as sympathizers. That completely blows my argument up. I was under the impression that the officers were silent, uninvolved observers. There's nothing to look at here, carry on.

So the Free Speach zones... (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#18482909)

weren't free?
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